Military leaders call on Congress to secure America, support alternative fuels

May 17, 2012 |

In “Operation Free”, a coalition of retired Admirals and Air Force and Army Generals say “We cannot drill our way out of the problem of energy security,” in letter to Senate Energy Committee heads.

In Washington, a group of retired military leaders, organized as “Operation Free” within the Truman National Security Project, called on Senate leaders to reject attempts by the House of Representatives to deny the US military the option of using advanced biofuels, should those fuels cost any more than fossil fuel prices.

“Even if we flood the market with every drop of oil in both our proven and strategic reserves, it will not be enough to offset rising global demand,” the retired generals and admirals wrote.

The group is addressing what former supreme NATO Commander General Wesley K. Clark (Ret.) has called “the single greatest US policy failure of the past 40 years,” the failure to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, typically because of early-stage price concerns.

The timing of the letter coincided with the passage of the Conway amendment to the Defense department budget, by the House of Representatives, which would prevent the US Navy from buying alternative fuels if they cost more than fossil fuels.

The “Operation Free” letter

The Honorable Carl Levin, Chairman
Senate Armed Services Committee
U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable John McCain, Ranking Member
Senate Armed Services Committee
U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Carl Levin and Ranking Member John McCain,

We, the undersigned veterans of the United States military, join security leaders of both parties in recognizing that America’s reliance on oil is a serious threat to our national security. We call on Congress to support the military as it leads the way in developing the next generation of secure, clean energy sources.


America sends over $1 billion per day overseas for oil. Our voracious demand for this single source of fuel ensures high oil prices in a global market, draining our economy and enabling our enemies. Every time the price of a barrel of crude oil goes up five dollars, Iran makes an additional $7.9 billion annually.

We cannot drill our way out of the problem of energy security. Even if we flood the market with every drop of oil in both our proven and strategic reserves, it will not be enough to offset rising global demand. Gas prices would still remain high and OPEC would continue to set the international price of oil.


We have to find new sources of fuel. As long as the United States is beholden to global energy prices, our country is vulnerable. The Air Force and Army are increasing the fuel efficiency of the vehicles we use to fight, transport troops, and provide support.

The Navy is investing in advanced biofuels programs that will enhance its power-projection capability. The Marines are operationalizing common assets like wind and solar power to decrease energy vulnerability. These initiatives have been undertaken in partnerships with American firms and are creating jobs for American workers.

Some Members of Congress, however, oppose these critical programs. They choose to waste time by advocating policies that have already proven to be failures and attack the military for investing in prudent measures that will save lives. Taking control of our energy future would mean preventing future conflicts around the world and protecting Americans here at home.

It is time to secure America with clean energy. All of our civilian leaders must match the military’s commitment and stop putting partisan politics ahead of good policy. We call on Congress to support the Department of Defense as it invests in clean, domestic, alternative sources of energy for the sake of the security of the United States of America.

Lt. General John G Castellaw, USMC (Ret.)
Brigadier General John Adams, US Army (Ret.)
Lt. General Don Kerrick, US Army (Ret.)
Brigadier Keith Kerr, US Army (Ret.)
Lt. General Norman Seip, USAF (Ret.)
Rear Admiral Larry Baucom, US Navy (Ret.)
Major General Roger Blunt, US Army (Ret.)
Rear Admiral Leendert R. Hering, US Navy (Ret.)
Major General Paul Monroe, US Army (Ret.)

The Digest’s Take

The US House of Representatives proposes restrict the Pentagon’s war fighting capabilities – and, make no mistake, the Pentagon views energy security as vital to its warfighting capabilities – because of a ruckus over whether the Navy should have really paid $12 million dollars for 450,000 gallons to test and certify its planes and ships for advanced biofuels.

What next?

A bill in the House restricting the use of tanks that cost more than a Chevy? A bill that restricts the use of jets that cost more than a Piper Cub? A bill that restricts the use of any terrorist-tracking technology that costs more than a GPS device at Radio Shack?

The country deserves an energy policy based on something more profound and stable than cost of 87-octane unleaded at a local Wal-Mart last Tuesday.

The House offers nothing to the men and women in uniform but the prospect of forty more years of heartbreaking tours of duty in the Middle East. It’s more of the same, at a time when the country needs to sustain its march towards a new energy mix.

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